Good Medicine Everyday: Leafy Greens (with TWO Green Smoothie Recipes) by emily penn

We all inherently know greens are good for us, right? It’s been drilled into our heads since we were kids, and as it turns out - for good reason. Today we’re talking specifically about dark leafy greens - kale, collard greens, arugula, spinach and chard. Romaine counts, too. Sorry - iceberg doesn’t and never will count because it’s mostly water and contains very few actual nutrients.

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Leafy greens are packed to the brim with nutrients! They’re also full of fiber, low in calories and high in phytonutrients (plant compounds that have a big impact on the health of your cells). Read on to learn more about the ridiculously amazing benefits of eating leafy greens daily (1):

  • Ever since this study came out earlier this year, I’ve been quoting it every chance I get: one, yes just ONE serving, of leafy greens per day SIGNIFICANTLY slows cognitive decline. This study showed that individuals who consumed green leafy vegetables had brains that appeared 11 years younger than their counterparts who consumed little to no green leafies. A cup of raw greens or 1/2 a cup of cooked greens daily is all it takes folks.

  • If you think bananas are the only place to get your potassium, I’ve got news for ya - leafy greens have it, too. A cup of cooked spinach contains 840 mg, plus all the other good stuff plus no impact on blood sugar. Potassium is essential for fluid regulation and getting adequate amounts will help keep you bloat-free.

  • Another surprise for you - leafy greens contain beta-carotene. Yep - that nutrient we usually associate with carrots and sweet potatoes? Greens have it too, making them great for supporting healthy skin.

  • Combat stress with leafy greens! They contain folate and magnesium - folate helps with mood regulation by participating in dopamine and serotonin production. Magnesium is one of my favorite nutrients to help with stress since it helps relax muscles and is depleted during times of stress.

  • Support your bones - dark leafies contain calcium and vitamin K, essential for strong bones.

  • Greens contain many anti-inflammatory properties thanks to their antioxidants and polyphenols. This also puts them in the cancer-fighting category.

  • The chlorophyll in greens supports the liver by helping to escort toxins out of the body. In our increasingly toxic world, this is so important.

Have I convinced you to eat your greens yet? It’s so simple, yet so many people go throughout their day without eating a single green thing. I personally make it a point to have greens at a minimum of one meal per day, though it’s usually more like two and if I make it to three I feel like a superhero. Here are some of my favorite ways to get your greens in:

  • Add frozen spinach to smoothies

  • Serve meals over a bed of raw greens - ex: burrito bowls served over greens, chicken + veggies over greens

  • Eating one big salad a day - I do this more in the summer, less in the winter

  • I often sauté onions, garlic and kale as a base for meals

  • Add greens to your eggs

  • Add greens to soups, stews and curries (they wilt into almost nothing!)

  • Use romaine leaves in place of tortillas and use collards as sandwich wraps (surprisingly delicious!)

And now, because I love you, I’m sharing not one, but my TWO favorite green smoothie recipes. One is a little sweeter and a great green smoothie for beginners and the other is less sweet and more deeply cleansing.

Basic Green Smoothie (Great for Beginners)

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1 frozen banana
Large handful frozen spinach (don’t be shy - you can’t taste it!)
1-2 tbsp almond butter (optional but yummy and makes the smoothie more filling)
1 cup non-dairy milk or water

  1. Add everything to a blender and blend on high for 30-60 seconds, until smooth and creamy.

Big Green Drank

1 apple or pear, chopped
1/2 lemon, peel removed
1/2 cucumber or zucchini (optional)
Large handful frozen spinach
1 knob ginger
2 tbsp hemp, chia or flax seeds
1/2 tsp spirulina (optional)
1-2 cups water (I usually just fill to the 32 oz line on my blender - hence BIG Green Drank)

  1. Add everything to a blender and blend on high for 30-60 seconds, until smooth and creamy.

Good Food: Sage + Thyme Spaghetti Squash Bake by emily penn

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I’ve never been a huge casserole person, but as life gets busier, the idea of mixing a bunch of stuff together, throwing it in a dish and baking it sounded more and more appealing. I’m not quite sure where this idea came from, but I just started experimenting with it and bam - this recipe was born.

It feels really rich without being heavy, but it is heavy in my favorite food group - veggies! By using the spaghetti squash instead of noodles, this dish keeps a low-carb status. It’s savory and satisfying and perfect as we head into the season of chilly nights and comfort food.

I used sage and thyme but you could also use rosemary or thyme or any other savory herb you have on hand.

Sage + Thyme Spaghetti Squash Bake

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Serves 4 hungry people, 5-6 less hungry people
Cook time 1 hour / Total time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients
1 large spaghetti squash
2 tbsp avocado oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 large bell pepper, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp sea salt, divided
1 pound of grass-fed beef
1 heaping tbsp fresh or dried thyme leaves
1 heaping tbsp fresh or dried sage
1 large head of broccoli, approximately 4 cups chopped


almond “parmesan” topping (optional)
½ cup almond flour
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tsp garlic powder
Salt + pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Slice spaghetti squash in half, remove seeds and place face down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Roast for about 45 minutes, until outside has started to brown and the squash has some give when you poke it.

  1. While squash is roasting, heat avocado oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, bell pepper and ½ a tsp of salt to the pan. Saute on medium high heat until the onions and peppers start to get some color, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

  2. In the same pan, add the ground beef and other ½ tsp of salt. Cook until the beef is no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Add the sage and thyme about halfway through cooking. Transfer the cooked beef to the same bowl as the onions and peppers.

  3. Next, steam the broccoli. Chop broccoli into bite size florets and steam until tender but still bright green, about 10 minutes. Add the broccoli to the large bowl with the rest of the ingredients.

  4. If you’re still waiting for the squash to finish cooking and are planning on making the Almond Parm, do that now. Add all ingredients to a small bowl, mix and set aside.

  5. When squash is done, remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, flipping the squash onto the skin side to release steam. Increase oven temp to 425.

  6. When squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the inside. This should be easy and the squash should look like small noodles. Do this until the skin is as clean as you can get it, adding the squash noodles to the same large bowl as everything else.

  7. Mix all ingredients together. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired.

  8. Transfer ingredients to a 9x13 casserole dish or any baking dish that holds about 3 quarts. Sprinkle the top with Almond Parm if using.

  9. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. If using the Almond Parm, it will start to turn golden.

  10. Remove from oven and enjoy!

notes

* Some of these steps can be done ahead of time (ie, roasting the squash or steaming the broccoli), which will help this come together more quickly.

Good Medicine Everyday: Turmeric (with Golden Milk Recipe!) by emily penn

Ahh turmeric, turmeric, turmeric. It’s been such a buzzy word that spilled over from the wellness world into the mainstream consciousness pretty quickly. Turmeric is perhaps the best example of what’s old is new again when it comes to health.

This spice has been revered for years in traditional medicine. It’s health properties are pretty impressive, so it’s a big bummer that Americans have been collectively missing out on them for decades.

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So let’s get into why people are so obsessed with this yellow spice (1, 2):

  • It has huge anti-inflammatory properties. This is what brought the humble spice back up. So many of us today are suffering from chronic inflammation.

  • Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric, which provides the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Okay listen up because this part is important: there have been studies done that show that curcumin is JUST AS EFFECTIVE AS SOME ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DRUGS. Without the side effects like damage to the gut. I personally take a curcumin supplement if I have a headache or pain. I would strongly recommend you replace your ibuprofen or Advil with a curcumin supplement. OTC painkillers almost all have a negative impact on gut health.

  • Turmeric actually helps SUPPORT gut health. Curcumin helps relax the muscles of intestines, pushing food through. It also helps alleviate gas and bloating. Curcumin encourages regeneration of the gut lining, which is helpful for a variety of digestive disorders, including leaky gut. And last but not least, curcumin supports healthy microbes in the gut and disrupts the growth of harmful organisms. Impressive, right?

  • Curcumin increases levels of something called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps your neurons form new connections - meaning better brain health for you. This has several amazing implications including protection from Alzheimers and depression, which are both marked by low levels of BDNF.

  • Curcumin fights cancer. Studies have shown that it can help kill off cancerous cells while also slowing the spread of cancer and growth of blood vessels in tumors. Curcumin can also be used preventatively.

  • Arthritis can be treated with curcumin supplementation. One study showed it to be more effective than a drug for rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Curcumin can fight depression. Did you know inflammation plays a huge role in depression? One study showed curcumin was just as effective as Prozac. Mic drop.

So turmeric has earned its reputation, yes? Curcumin is amazing, but not actually that bioavailable from just using the spice itself. There are two ways to make it more bioavailable: combine it with black pepper and/or with fat, both of which boost our absorption of curcumin. If you supplement with it, make sure there’s a black pepper extract included in the formula for maximum potency.

For more concentrated benefits you can take a supplement (ie, fighting chronic pain, depression, digestive issues). Or you can start incorporating it in everyday cooking using fresh or dried turmeric, which I would recommend even if you’re taking it in supplement form because getting nutrients from food is always preferable to supplements.

Curries are a great way to get in your turmeric since it’s one of the main components of curry powder. I also just sprinkle some turmeric in veggies while I’m sautéing them, eggs, even smoothies! Fresh turmeric is pretty widely available and you can grate that into soups, stews, dressings, smoothies, etc. Just add it whenever you think of it!

There’s also this amazing drink called Golden Milk - a traditional Ayurvedic tonic that makes it easy and delicious to reap the benefits of turmeric. Try it out!

Golden Milk

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makes 2 small or 4 large cups

ingredients
4 cups non-dairy milk (preferably something with a little fat)
1 - 2 tsp dried turmeric powder
1 - 2 tsp dried ginger powder
1 - 2 tsp cinnamon (optional, for flavor)
Pinch of black pepper
Honey to taste

instructions

  1. Add all ingredients except honey to a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the spices. Bring to a drinkable temperature.

  2. Transfer to a mug, add honey to taste and enjoy!

notes
* You can also use 1 can full fat coconut milk + 2 cups of water as your liquid for a really rich version.
* Instead of honey, you could add a date or two, transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.